Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Organic Lawn Care - Maintenance

To continue this series, let's address the topic of maintenance. It's all well and good to say that these chemicals are destroying the health of your family and the planet but then what do you do if you have a problem?

Assuming you've taken steps with aerating and amending to help build a solid foundation for your turf, the best thing to do is tackle the problems as they crop up. For example, we have a problem with clover this year more than the past few years. Clover is a well-known nitrogen-fixer, so that would point one in the direction of nitrogen deficiency.

That observation is backed up by another, more humbling, one - dog pee. Urine spots that people so often complain about are caused by nitrogen in the urine. Too much nitrogen in one area can burn the lawn. Which means if your dog's pee is burning your grass, in addition to other steps, you may actually want to reduce the amount of nitrogen you apply. The reverse is happening in our case - the spots where Lucky goes are some of the healthiest, thickest, fastest growing areas of the lawn.

Identifying the exact problem lets you pinpoint a specific solution. This saves you time, money, and helps reduce runoff and benefits the environment. In this case, it's a simple matter of applying a nitrogen-rich, phosphorous-free organic fertilizer. There are now several options on the market, even a mass-market one by Scotts. Butoffee grounds actually make an excellent option if you have a small lot or a specific area you want to treat - Starbucks and other chains even give their used grounds away for this purpose (be careful if you have pets, though, since coffee and coffee grounds are toxic to dogs if ingested).

As a rule, problems in the yard are symptomatic of nutrient or soil deficiencies. A simple search on the internet can turn up quick, easy and cheap (or free!) solutions to your problem.

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